Despicable is the first piece of new music from the band since their 2013 comeback album Surgical Steel. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
A short but sweet EP that reminds us all exactly why Carcass are one of the best death metal bands on the planet, Despicable features career best death and roll tracks such as Under The Scalpel Blade and Slaughtered in Soho.
This EP is most comparable to the band’s classic efforts Heartwork and Swansong. Everything present on this 18 minute EP is incredibly groovy and melodic, whilst retaining an old school edge on the production, as opposed to the cleaner style of their most recent full length.
Bill Steer’s riffs are expectedly rhythmic and heavy, and Jeff Walker’s bespoke metal bark has aged like fine wine, the two truly are top of their game. Daniel Wilding returns behind the kit and his steady rock beats fit the music well. Joining the trio is Crowning Glory and Pounder lead guitarist Tom Draper, though to specifically say where he fits in on this release, I cannot say. In a full album featuring Steer and Draper together, I feel that would give us a much better impression as to the identity of what Tom can do in the band.
Overall, it’s a great release. I know that the full length is coming sooner rather than later, and I’m waiting with baited breath. It’s rough and bloody, just the way I like it!
Ghost Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)
Ghost are a Swedish rock/heavy metal band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2008 by Tobias Forge. In the last decade they have become one of the most prominent names in the industry, having released four studio albums, as well as performing arena tours with the likes of Metallica.
With the new leader appointed, Papa Emeritus IV, and a new record likely around the corner in 2021, there has never been a better time to review and rank one of music’s most creative forces, as we take a closer look into their discography, ranked! From worst to best.
#4 – Prequelle (2018)
Their most recent release, at time of writing, did a lot of things right. By attempting to go in a pitch-black lyrical direction and taking influence from pop and shock rock of the 1980s, Ghost struck a confident and catchy balance of hope and gloom contrasting throughout the record.
There are some truly incredible songs on this release, including the likes of: Rats, Faith, Dance Macabre and Witch Image, but overall the complete package left a little more to be desired. Just over 40 minutes in length but featuring three interluding instrumental tracks, I can’t help but listen to this and simply wonder, ‘where’s the rest of it?’
When this album is good, it’s incredible and boasts powerful performances from Forge and his newly assembled team of touring musicians, in a few ways it just lacks the magic of what came before.
#3 – Meliora
Without question, Meliora was a record published at the height of the band’s popularity and features some of their most well known works. Forge’s Papa Emeritus III persona remains the most well realised and well loved incarnation of the character, and everything about the younger, more sexualised, frontman fit the looser pop-oriented motif of this record perfectly.
This album is a little more guitar-driven that what was found on their previous record but, for the most part, favoured catchy melodies and pop hooks than delivering on the overt Satanic premise of what came before. Monolithic efforts in rock were created here including the almighty From The Pinnacle To The Pit, haunting Luciferian love song He Is and the Grammis award winning Cirice. If the album had a little more of songs like this and not some of the filler tracks like Spirit and Majesty, then no doubt it would rank higher. It’s a crime Zenith was left on the cutting room floor.
#2 – Opus Eponymous (2010)
Let’s preface my opinion here by saying that I believe Opus Eponymous to be one of the most important rock albums of the last decade. A winning combination of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple combined with a Satanic indoctrination theme melded beautifully together.
What originally began life as a song for previous rock band Magna Carta Cartel, Stand By Him, is one of the greatest classic metal songs in history, in no small part are the likes of Ritual, Elizabeth and Prime Mover far behind either.
Taking a stripped back approach to rock and roll and insidiously inserting ghastly messages into it worked to an insane degree, and Opus Eponymous benefits greatly from such a strong set of songs, immaculate production and nail-biting atmosphere.
#1 – Infestissumam (2013)
With an album name that translates directly to ‘the most hostile’ or ‘the biggest threat’, there should be no confusion over the intention of this album. Defiant to its very core in opposing the Christian religion, featuring not only the band’s darkest lyrics and imagery, but also their best songs ever written.
Ditching the classic rock elements of Opus Eponymous and instead switching out to full on old school doom metal, Ghost hit their stride with anthems like Year Zero, Monstrance Clock, Idolatrine and Secular Haze. There’s an aura of evil that permeates every second of this album, and the fact that it is this memorable and melodious in the face of that, is quite frankly astounding.
The most sinister version of the band and their leader complimented by their most sinister ethos and heaviest songs, It should be no doubt that Infestissumam takes top spot on the list.
UADA – Djinn Review
It has been a very long time since a piece of music has left me completely speechless. On their third record, UADA return to make what is not only likely to be album of the year, but potentially one of the most important records that the genre has ever been graced.
Across six songs, at just over an hour in length, the band have evolved their formula and expanded their musical horizons to include influences from all over the metal spectrum, and Djinn is all the better for it. It’s easy to see the comparisons to bands such as Mgla and Dissection in UADA’s history, and whilst that is an unfair and not entirely accurate depiction of their influences, it is overt to see that the band have far transcended their inspirations and ascended passed their aspirations totally.
Djinn is a much brighter release as opposed to the duology that preceded it. Not only in the production, in which this is hands down the most well recorded and most grandiose sounding music to date, but in the song writing across the board too. Melody is the key phrase that spills out of every pinhole on this release. So many of the guitar riffs on offer here, courtesy of virtuosos Jack Superchi and Jake Sloan, are as haunting as they are gorgeously moving, in a way rarely heard in the genre.
The percussion on display largely takes a back seat with genre-staple blast beats put on the back burner in favour of a more straightforward, and climatic, mix of rock patterns, double kicks and crash/ride sequences. In the same vein, the vocals are less prominent on the record than they were on the previous instalment, though they are no less haunting, just not the main focus to building an oppressive and aggressive nature any longer.
Passionate screaming leads take centre stage across monolithic triumphs of audio, known on the record as the 13-minute epics No Place Here and, the life-affirming closing track, Between Two Worlds. The compositions throughout this hour-long experience simply defy reality and challenge the listener in more ways than one. One minute there are beautiful chorus passages, as found in abundance on The Great Mirage (particularly towards the end), and the next, haunting and pounding fierce six-string black metal brutality as demonstrated in every second of Forestless, passed a stellar dark-ambient intro.
When comparing Djinn to prior efforts, Devoid of Light and Cult of a Dying Sun, the changes in musical direction are night and day, but in a positive way. If UADA’s first release represents darkness as hopelessness and fear creeps in, and their sophomore effort resembles desperation and desperately clawing into that goodnight, then Djinn embodies a shred of hopefulness and optimism that pierces through the shades of blackened veil.
In other words, instrumentally this album is ever so slightly softer and less intense when compared to what came before, but I believe that this more melodic change was ultimately for the better, as the band were able to completely outshine their contemporaries and carve out a new niche to create something far more impactful, striking and important than I ever believed could come out of black metal in the modern day.
In some ways the development of UADA parallels that of other American black metal bands such as Ghost Bath. The Dakota-based blackgazers started as straight forward DSBM on Funeral and then went beyond genre conventions with their darker follow up, Moonlover, much like how Cult of a Dying Sun evolved from the grimness of Devoid of Light. Ghost Bath’s third release Starmourner progressed their sound into the ethereal and the melodic in the best move they could have made at the time. So too do UADA realise their full potential on album no. 3 and it is a complete and total masterpiece in every single way. 2020 has been redeemed with the release of Djinn and I feel so fortunate to exist in a time where I can bear witness to incredible music by such talented minds.
Proscription – Conduit Review
Black/Death is my favourite type of music, so when I heard there was a new release from Finnish band Proscription, I was beyond excited. I am pleased to say that every second of their full length debut not only far exceeded my expectations but completely blew away many contemporaries in the genre as well.
From the ashes of Maveth come Proscription and they have more than filled the void left by the former in almost every way. Not since bands like Veld, Negator or Deadspace have I found myself completely floored by such a masterfully executed black/death record such as this. It’s due in part to the outstanding vocal by frontman Christbutcher who is such an unstoppable and ultimate driving force on this record’s audio assault that it is simply impossible to deny.
Proscription play a blend of black/death that leans heavier on the former, with death metal style vocals taking the brunt of the low end as a result. Many of the stellar songs on this release remind me of what was found on the last few Sicarius records, a band that too plays a relentlessly oppressive and heavy form of blackened death metal in such an awe-inspired fashion.
One listen to the powerful behemoth that is To Reveal The Words Without Words will tell you everything you need to know about exactly what makes this band stand out from so many. Violent screaming lead guitars, accompanied by crushing chugging rhythm sections, and those flawless double kicks twisting and turning as the kaleidoscopic melodies warp into something diabolical is truly a feast for the ears.
Radiant Midnight starts off slow before swelling into forms from beyond the realms. The infectious riffing cascading viciously with the lead lines gets your head moving almost against your will. Voiceless Calling, the lead single released ahead of the record, is a highlight too. With an intro that comfortably thrashes around leading into the sickening, but hypnotic marching beat combined with the viral prowess of a guitar solo so mesmerising that it defies description. The dark melodies on offer that permeate many of the tracks on Conduit, remind me of black/death greats such as Zos Kia Cultus and The Last Supper in all the right ways.
Put it this way, by the time that the final few notes were played on the title track (ending the record) I was instantly overcome with the desire to start it immediately over again. Conduit has gotten inside my head and I could not be happier. If the amazing art is what drags you in, then the incredible music is what you will be staying for.
Obsidian Kingdom – Meat Machine Review
Meat Machine is the newest album by Spanish progressive metal act Obsidian Kingdom, and comes to us courtesy of the ever prolific Season of Mist, as it is as gloriously fragmented, crazy and diverse as you could ever dream of.
With a record label that primarily focuses on black and death metal artists such as: Tsjuder, Rotting Christ, Carach Angren, Urns, Saor, Solstafir etc. It’s a nice change of pace to experience something as vividly lucid and violently resistant to categorization. Obsidian Kingdom have always been a band that refuse to play into genre conventions and confine themselves to any one aspect of metal music, and I feel that on Meat Machine, they have perhaps hit the full apex of their stride.
In other words, this album is gleefully all over the place, in the best way possible. Upon first viewing, tracks such as The Pump and Mr Pan stuck out for their gorgeous amalgamation of harsh and clean vocals coupled with thick industrial guitars that are reminiscent of acts like Deftones and Voivod in their experimental nature and precipice cascading between the mellow and the verbose.
Post-rock elements and extensive use of moody synthesizers are everywhere on tracks such as Flesh World and Naked Politics. The former continuing with stunning female clean vocals performed by Jade Riot Cul as the soft nature of her almost angelic highs recede into a thick Spanish accent as dreamlike shoegaze inspired guitars rise and fall over alternating low toms and punchy snare drums. It is unlike anything I have ever heard before, but it’s safe to say that after a few listens of being outside of my comfort zone here, I found myself unable to escape the entrancing force of all these different moving parts colliding together.
Not to say that there are no moments of heaviness on display here. Meat Star melds the aforementioned post-rock elements with groovy screaming lead and powerful screams by guitarist/vocalist Rider G Omega. There are moments on this release that call my mind recent efforts by Japanese metal band Dir En Grey, their prowess in genre-melding and abstract attitude to making music.
Production wise this record is an audible marvel. It is extremely clean sounding with the percussion being a particular strong point here. The drums sound powerful and are used just the right amount to accent the eccentricities of the guitars, whilst also allowing space for the soaring male/female vocals to weave in as and when necessary. It is without a doubt one of the nicest sounding albums I have heard in a long time in terms of clarity.
My favourite song from the record is A Foe. It is a slow yet building ballad of singing and spoken word over beautiful acoustic guitar and dynamic piano that help the listener reflect on everything they have just bore witness to. Without mincing words or wasting time, it is an alluring few minutes that culminate into an eerie atmosphere as low toms belt out heavy as earthquakes. This was the moment I fell in love with the release.
The weirder parts of Meat Machine are going to be what keep people coming back to this album. It would be amiss of me to openly divulge everything in a written review though. This is a record that you need to hear yourself to truly appreciate it. I think it is going to be one that people either love or may get lost within, in my opinion, it is well worth the risk either way. This album was my introduction to the band, and I can confidently say that not only will I be experiencing their back catalogue as soon as possible, but actively listening out to what they do next in the future.